Film Micrœview #132: Detective (1985)

09.15.2014 § Leave a comment


Rating: Good.

Detective is a noir pastiche, and maybe the most obscure french comedy ever (I missed most of its references, probably). What I can say is that I appreciated the reflexive relationship set up between its audience and certain of its characters — a strategy I was first introduced to with Haneke’s Funny Games, a less subtle film to come 12 years later: in Haneke’s horror film, the psycho killer breaks the fourth wall to collude with us, an act that would be one-sided were we not to participate by continuing to watch; while in Godard’s mystery film, initially the suggestion is that one set of characters are investigating another, while eventually we realize that we are the detectives. And this is cinched by the conclusion, as there are no answers here, only a search.

Godard’s usual zany editing and scoring tricks are amiss here, fucking with mood and space/time. Never have I experienced so much story chaotically crammed into such experimental storytelling. Godard dedicates this film to a set of auteurs well known for being auteurs, hence suggesting auteurism to be a key aspect of the film, underscoring his return to personal form. In the mix is linguistic play (verbal and even orthographic puns, funky credit renditions which lasted almost the entire movie, etc.).

I read while looking into one of the Carax films I watched recently that Delpy got her start in a Godard movie. This is the one.

I watched this because of Bruno Nuytten, the cinematographer, who did the cinematography for Possession, a film whose hugely mobile and expressive cinematography I’m obsessed with. Here he didn’t show the same boundless movement, but in his claustrophobic reservedness I still felt his power.


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